Editor’s Note: Need a really good blow dryer? We tracked down the best hair dryers for natural curls and all hair textures–from the best dryers for thin hair to the most affordable dryers and the luxury splures.
Sometimes a girl likes to rock a straight style every now and again so we’ve compiled expert tips to get you your best blow out ever. We are laying out exactly how to properly blow dry your own hair with no adverse dryness or damage included. To make sure our skills were on point, we reached out to celebrity natural hair stylist Felicia Leatherwood to get her recommendations on best blow dry practices.
Before you get started, it is important to have your end style in mind before beginning your blow dry as styles on blown out hair will not require as much heat use as a style that requires use of a thermal tool – flat iron, curling iron, etc. – to achieve. “If you are [only] doing a blow out, then you do not need to blow out your hair to the point where it is bone straight…it can stay a little frizzy,” she advises, “But if you are straightening your hair afterwards, then you may want to direct the blow dryer down the strand with the cuticle not against it, to smooth out the cuticle for preparation to apply a heated tool.”
DO’S WHEN BLOWDRYING YOUR HAIR
Consider the moisture level of your hair: Taking a blow dryer to soaking wet hair is never a good idea as it can overheat the water inside your hair strand causing a boiling effect long after your hair feels dry to the touch and essentially damaging your hair from the inside out. Make sure your hair is damp to nearly dry before beginning your blow dry process. If your hair is tightly curled or kinky, stretching your hair with big braids beforehand and letting it totally dry is even better. Wavy haired women can wash at night and blow dry in the morning. To cut down on frizz, try the Turbie Twist (no, really).
If you plan to wear your hair curly, but don’t want to walk out of the house with wet curls, start on low heat and “rough dry” the moisture out of hair by moving your dryer around head with or without diffuser. As your hair dries, the heat can be increased, just remember to keep dryer moving and to hold your dryer at least 6 inches away from your hair. Any closer and on high heat you run the risk of burning your hair out of your head. We’ve saw this first hand ourselves. Never, ever press the face of a blow dryer directly on your strands. Consider yourself warned.
Prep your hair with an effective heat protectant: “Always use a heat protectant or a leave-in conditioner,” says Felicia. We think a heat protectant is absolutely necessary and I am personally not against heat protectant with silicones, especially if you are following up your blow out with a curling or flat iron. Some of our favorites are Carol’s Daughter Heat Protection Serum, Aussie Heat Protecting Shine Spray, Tresemme Platinum Strength Strengthening Heat Protect Spray and ALTERNA Bamboo Smooth Anti-Breakage Thermal Protectant Spray.
Choose your styling products based on your desired result and hair texture: A light, weightless styling foam or mousse like Giovanni Natural Mousse is generally good for all hair textures if only a blow out is desired. We also like Aveda ‘phomollient’ Styling Foam and Jonathan Product Infinite Volume Thickening Foam as two other great options. If you are going on to fully straighten after your blow out, a cream like Aveda ‘brilliant’ Universal Styling Cream or a serum like Aveda ‘smooth infusion’ Glossing Straightener or Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum is recommended to give added protection to hair, buffer high heat and give high shine to your finished style. Just be sure not to over do the cream so you don’t end up with greasy, flat hair.
Work in manageable sections for the best results: The pros generally section hair in four quadrants or according to the desired end style if blow dry is used to achieve the style. Applying your heat protectant one section at a time, prior to blow drying is always recommended so that you get thorough coverage with the product. “Separate your hair in 4’s and take one section at a time and apply your heat protectant/leave-in,” advises Felicia.
Use proper tools and attachments: For kinkier textures, be sure to use the widest tooth comb attachment or a balled-end paddle brush to prevent unnecessary breakage. The comb attachment is a popular attachment used by most curly and straight haired woman as well as professionals, but, in the event a brush is used, your technique will vary from that of a comb attachment. Curlier to straight textures can use a variety of brushes depending on the degree of curl from round, boar bristle, Denman, paddle or even the comb attachment.
Choose the proper technique: The “comb attachment technique” will be different from the “paddle brush technique.” When working with a comb attachment Felicia suggests to, “Always start blow drying your hair with comb attachment at the bottom of hair shaft, NOT the base of the scalp. If you start blow drying too far up the shaft you will rip hair and cause breakage.” When using a paddle brush you are going to do the opposite (on detangled hair): lock the brush in at the roots while pulling with light tension to stretch your hair all while moving brush down the section to the ends as your hair allows you. If you catch a tangle, don’t rip through it, instead use your fingers to get it out. Once your hair has been sufficiently heat and tension stretched (and you are tangle free) you can pull through from root to ends focusing the nozzle downward as not to frizz your ends or rough up the cuticle layer of your hair.
Start blowdrying in back of your head: Not only is the back of your head the most difficult to get to and generally takes longer to do but the hair from the front may get in your eyes and get disheveled while trying to get to the back, increasing blow your dry time.
DONT’S WHEN BLOWDRYING YOUR HAIR
Blow dry too often or with too high heat: The practice of blow drying does increase the overall dryness of your hair so do so sparingly and use low to medium heat majority of the time.
Purchase a professional blow dryer: The professionals do more blow drys than a little bit and therefore need a more powerful motor, requiring a heftier price tag which can cost over $200. Instead, look out for blowdryers that have a 1875W AC motor for three time longer life, at least 3 heat settings and 3 speed settings, ionic and ceramic technology which helps to eliminates frizz and adds shine and a limited warranty. A dryer like this costs anywhere from $25-$60 and is more than affordable. Jilbere Ceramic Tools Dryer and Remington T/Studio Silk Ceramic Dryer are great budget options. If you are looking to spend more, we like the Rusk Speed Freak Professional 2000 Watt Ceramic Dryer.
Go over same section too many times: I’d limit my passes to three per section. Once you hair is sufficiently dry, the heat can be reduced or focused higher on the areas least touched and most frizzed, generally the ends. When using the comb attachment method, Felicia adds that, “As you move up the shaft of hair be sure to press the cool down button when moving the blow dryer thru the parts of hair that has already been dried, as not to cause heat damage by going over the same area with intense heat. The hair at the base of your scalp will take the longest to dry and the ends of your hair will dry the fastest.”
Forget your scalp: If you have very thick hair, this tip will be most helpful to you. To reduce the drying time at base of your scalp, I like to do a hand tension method. I hold the section I’m working out stretched and angle my dryer downward but slightly away from my scalp and blow dry on top side of the section and upward on bottom side of section but as close to scalp as possible to rough dry the base. Once it’s almost fully dry, I then continue with my comb attachment or paddle brush method.
Following these expert tips will help you get through your blow-out faster and with healthier hair in the end.